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Commercial Integrator Europe Q&A: Rick Kreifeldt on the present and future of AVB (part one)

The AVnu Alliance chairman and president examines the outlook for AVB.

David Davies

With last week’s news that digital audio and conferencing specialist Xavtel Communications has been accepted as a Promoter Member of the AVnu Alliance, Commercial Integrator Europe decided it was high time to catch up with Alliance chairman and president Rick Kreifeldt about the current outlook for AVB (Audio/Video Bridging) and whether there is any validity to the suggestion made in some quarters that the project has lost some of its momentum.

What is the significance of Xavtel joining the AVnu Alliance, and what hints can you give us about forthcoming membership announcements?

Xavtel, as part of the PAX ProAV Group, brings to market a wide range of digital audio conferencing and pro-audio DSP processors, including full HD audio and video over AVB or Xavtel on a single platform. As the latest member to join AVnu Alliance, Xavtel is committed to driving AVB standards through certification. This new membership is significant because Xavtel is developing and deploying video over AVB solutions and they have said that they plan to take these products through AVnu certification testing.

In the coming weeks we plan to announce seven new members across pro-audio and video, demonstrating the continued commitment to that market, bringing us to 80 members worldwide. The addition of these new members is testament to the fact that the industry is willing to invest in the creation of a new ecosystem of interoperable AVB devices through certification.

What is the latest news regarding AVB certification in terms of video devices?

AVnu Alliance has just completed the Market Requirement Document (MRD) to define a set of profiles for video transport via Pro Video equipment utilising IEEE 802.1 and 1722 family of AVB standards. The next step is for the MRD to go to AVnu Alliance’s Technical Work Group (TWG), where the group will write the certification tests based on the MRD. We expect to open certification testing for AVB-enabled professional video endpoints in mid-2015.

Today, several AVB-enabled video devices have been deployed or are in development, including the multi Award-winning AXON Digital Design Neuron for broadcast and live production. Barco, while using the AVnu-certified Extreme Networks Ethernet switching equipment, have also recently shown video applications for the professional market. Other members such as Digital Design Corporation and UMAN have video solutions in development and new members Xavtel and IntoPIX are working with video transport over AVB.

Pro-video and especially the broadcast market has recognised AVB as a game-changing technology for the industry. We’ve already seen strong interest from broadcasters drawn to AVB’s ability to provide high-reliability, converged media and data infrastructure. AVnu Alliance members have developed video products such as the next-generation proof of concept technology from Arista Networks and FOX networks to support the migration of legacy broadcast plants to packet-based Ethernet networks, allowing broadcasters to benefit from Ethernet and data centre economics.

In the automotive world, AVnu members have been developing audio and video networking technology via AVB into infotainment systems and driver assistance camera for years. Video, especially cameras around the vehicle, is a prime motivator for Ethernet and AVB into the vehicle. Certification test requirements for the automotive market are currently being specified by the Alliance.

Can you update us on the current state of progress with regard to audio certification, e.g. how many products are going through the process and when we can expect some more specific announcement?

Currently we have several end-points and switches in certification testing now and we expect the next certified products to roll out over the next few months. For member confidentiality, AVnu Alliance does not disclose products in certification or their testing status. However, many members are building AVB products and entering them into testing and we’ve seen an increased number of new members express interest in our certification testing.

In part two, on next week’s newsletter, Kreifeldt responds to criticisms about the pace of AVB device certification and the high prices of AVB-specific switches.

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